Planet Rugby

Leinster vastly improved in Brive

17th October 2009 17:37

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Jonathan Sexton Leinster

Jonathan Sexton: Flawless with the boot

Leinster made a return to Heineken Cup-winning form on Saturday, never giving Brive a chance in a convincing 36-13 win.

The defending Heineken Cup champions' first win in Pool Six was founded on Sexton's kicking haul of 19 points, with the tries coming from Lions full-back Rob Kearney and young replacement Kevin McLaughlin, who bagged a late double.

England fly-half Andy Goode landed two first-half penalties for Brive, whose best moment came after the hour mark when their South African flanker Gerhard Vosloo scored a converted try.

With a strong wind behind them, Leinster made a lively start but they fell behind when Goode drilled over the opening points after visiting flanker Sean O'Brien was penalised at a ruck.

Luke Fitzgerald, joining Brian O'Driscoll in midfield, showed plenty of adventure with a jinking run, and Sexton kicked Leinster level with a ninth-minute penalty.

Michael Cheika's men, smarting from last week's reversal to London Irish, maintained possession close to the Brive 22, pummelling away through the forwards before springing Kearney through a gap for a well-worked try.

A terrific wrap-around move involving Sexton and O'Driscoll, with Fitzgerald tying up two men, sent Kearney hurtling through on an angled run and he evaded Vincent Forgues' grasp to score.

Sexton added the extras and then extended Leinster's lead to 13-3 with a crisply-struck penalty, the kick coming after pressure exerted in the scrum - grizzled prop Davit Kinchagishvili was whistled up for a binding offence.

Goode marshalled Brive's first prolonged spell of pressure in Leinster territory and after O'Brien and Fitzgerald were penalised for high and late tackles respectively, the former Leicester Tiger bisected the posts with his second penalty.

Again, Leinster piled back on the offensive and Sexton, O'Driscoll and Shane Horgan threatened with ball in hand. Brive stuttered when presented with a turnover and Sexton mopped up with another penalty.

Leinster's control of possession and territory brought them further joy before the break. They benefited from Brive's growing indiscipline - this time lock Damien Browne was singled out for not rolling away after tackling Mike Ross - and Sexton kicked his side into a 19-6 interval lead.

The Ireland hopeful right-footed an early second-half penalty, following more infringements from the Brive pack, but the third quarter was relatively event-free.

The French side, champions of Europe back in 1998, finally took it up a notch when their forwards, including England hooker Steve Thompson and Irish-qualified locks Browne and Christian Short, found a pathway through at close quarters.

Leinster lost winger Isa Nacewa to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Alexis Palisson and the decibel level was raised when the hard-working Vosloo wrestled his way over the line from a close-range ruck.

Goode's conversion reduced the arrears to nine points but Leinster hit back with a lovely piece of attacking rugby, as Fitzgerald and O'Driscoll deftly set Nacewa free down the left touchline.

Nacewa was quickly closed down but he managed to pass back inside for McLaughlin to drive for the line and athletically dot down under pressure from two tacklers.

O'Driscoll later took Goode to task over his use of the boot at a ruck and tempers flared briefly as the two talismen tangled.

Leinster recovered their composure and finished out the game with a second try from McLaughlin, who picked off the base of a scrum and proved unstoppable from five metres out.

The scorers:

For Brive:
Try: Vosloo
Con: Goode
Pens: Goode 2

For Leinster:
Tries: Kearney, McLaughlin 2
Cons: Sexton 2, Berne
Pens: Sexton 5

Brive: 15 Fabrice Estebanez, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Lachlan Mackay, 11 Viliame Waqaseduadua, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Antoine Claassen, 7 Vincent Forgues, 6 Gerhard Vosloo, 5 Damien Browne, 4 Christian Short, 3 Pat Barnard, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Davit Kinchagishvili.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Philippe Bonrepaux, 17 Petrisor Toderasc, 18 Retief Uys, 19 Simon Azoulai, 20 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Ronnie Cooke, 23 Pascal Idieder.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Luke Fitzgerald, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Malcolm O'Kelly, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Mike Ross, 2 John Fogarty, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Bernard Jackman, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Ronan McCormack, 19 Kevin McLaughlin, 20 Stephen Keogh/Kevin McLaughlin, 21 Simon Keogh, 22 Shaun Berne, 23 Gordon D'Arcy.

Referee: James Jones (WRU)
Assistant referees: Hugh Watkins (WRU), Barrie Gregory (WRU)
TMO: Huw Lewis (WRU)

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